The Maine Public Broadcasting Network
Listen Live
Classical 24
Maine Border Protection Agent Wins Six-Figure Discrimination Settlement
10/21/2013   Reported By: Tom Porter

A former border protection agent from northwestern Maine has been awarded a $285,000 settlement as compensation for religious and sexual discrimination suffered in the workplace. Rebecca Carnot worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a small facility in Coburn Gore, a which is in Franklin County near the Quebec border. She says it was a dream job to start with - one she wanted to make a career out of. But within a few months, things changed. Tom Porter has more.

Related Media
Maine Agent Wins Discrimination Settlement Listen

"As time went on and the hostile work environment increased, and the bullying increased, it was awful," Rebecca Carnot says. "It was difficult to go to work everyday. I couldn't wait to get out of there to go home. I got violently ill on the way to work most days."

The person she accuses of creating this hostile work environment is her supervisor, Gregory Pease. Carnot's attorney, Jeff Young, says Pease and some other male colleagues at the Coburn Gore facility are members of a nearby fundamentalist church.

"As a result of that they have very strong views about a women's role in society, as well as religion," Young says.

And these views, says Young, often made their into the workplace, and were directed against Agent Rebecca Carnot. "There were frequent comments by Supervisor Pease, to the effect of - and these are direct quotes: 'A woman's place is 50 feet from the oven. My wife is well-trained - she should have dinner hot and ready for me when I come home,'" Young says.

According to a complaint filed in U.S. Distict Court last year, Pease also told Carnot that his proudest moment was when his daughter got married and was still a virgin. Carnot - who describes herself as Catholic - says the bullying got worse when Pease learned she was going through a divorce.

"He told me, 'You're getting a divorce, you're going to hell, you realize that?'" Carnot says. "And I was, like, 'Excuse me?' He said, 'In your religion and anybody's religion, you're going to hell. You got a divorce you're going to hell.'"

Carnot complains that she was also physically harrassed at work and sometimes given the silent treatment by her colleagues, at the instruction of Pease. The bullying only intensified, she says, when her colleagues found out she had made a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Carnot was dismissed at the start of 2011, two years after joining at the agency, and just a couple of months, she says, after receiving a good evaluation. Attorney Jeff Young says the charges against her - which include disclosing confidential information to another government agency - were trumped up.

"Absolutely, they were trumped up," he says. "Other people have engaged in like conduct and were not disciplined."

While he welcomes the six-figure settlement, Young says he's dismayed that no discplinary action was taken against Gregory Pease or his colleagues, who still work for the agency.

Rebecca Carnot - who now works as a store clerk, but still harbors hopes of returning to law enforcement - says she knows of two other cases of bullying that have occured at the Coburn Gore customs facility, including one that happened since she left.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to provide comment for this story.


Become a Fan of the NEW MPBNNews Facebook page. Get news, updates and unique content to share and discuss:

Recommended by our audience on Facebook:
Copyright © 2014 Maine Public Broadcasting Network. All rights reserved.